Turlock has had a rain storm, and now a wind storm, recently that have caused tree limbs to break off and even entire trees to fall.
As City of Turlock maintenance crews clear the roadways and sidewalks, property owners have to deal with the actual tree problems and debris left behind.
In previous years, the City of Turlock Public Works crews would trim broken branches or chop up fallen trees and then haul off the debris if they were a City “Street Tree” and/or presenting a roadway or sidewalk hazard.
A City “Street Tree” is a tree planted in public rights-of-way, or planting easements, or along certain specified theme streets. The planting easement is the easement on private property of five (5′) feet in width along the frontage of the parcel for the purposes of planting and maintaining street trees.
Going further back in Turlock’s history, the City of Turlock used to maintain these City street trees on private property whenever they saw fit.
TurlockCityNews.com asked Municipal Services Director Dan Madden why the difference in clean-up practices now and from the past.
Madden responded stating “Staffs purpose in removing downed trees or limbs from the public right of way is one of safety and timeliness. As these are trees or limbs that are the property owner’s responsibility, the debris is left to the property owner to dispose of. Previous instances of full clean up and disposal is no longer an option.”
The current City tree policies are supported by Turlock Municipal Code (TMC) Chapter 7-7. The code includes why property owners are responsible for the City street trees while the City must permit and have the final say in pruning, tree removal, or tree replacement: The health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens will best be served by regulating the removal, severe pruning, topping, and planting of street trees and encouraging the reforestation of areas in which street trees have been removed. (TMC 7-7-101)
So when a City street tree has been damaged or presents a hazard to the general public, City crews take care of the hazard and put the debris back on the owner’s property. The responsibility to dispose of the debris does not mean pushing the tree cuttings back out into the curb or gutter area of the street, as some residents are doing.
“The property owner is responsible for disposal,” said Madden. “Pushing the debris into the street is not proper disposal. Cutting them up and placing the limbs in their green waste container is proper disposal.”
If property owners do not responsibly take care of the City street tree on their property after the city has notified them to do so, they City may do the work and bill the property owner. (Turlock Municipal Code Chapter 7-7-211)
Madden said “The city may collect that material and potentially bill the resident. Again, the property owner is responsible for the street tree and all that it provides both good and bad.”
While there may be a lot of “bad” at the moment due to storm damage, Madden wanted to remind people of the many positive aspects of the City’s commitment to its urban forest including shade, GHG reductions, energy savings, property value, habitat, and such.
Madden also went on to state that “If properly maintained, the resident would not see the catastrophic failure of some of these trees.”
If a property owner or resident needs to take care of a City street tree by way of pruning or removal, a permit issued by the City of Turlock will be needed.
7-7-301 Permits required.
It shall be unlawful for any person to remove, prune, or severely prune or alter any street tree within the City, without a permit from the City.
(Ord. 959-CS, Amended, 11/28/2000)
7-7-302 Applications for permits.
Any person desiring to remove, prune, severely prune, or otherwise alter a street tree shall file an application for a permit with the Superintendent. Such application shall be provided by the Superintendent and may contain such information deemed necessary by the Superintendent to insure compliance with the spirit and intent of this chapter.
Applications for permits shall be signed by the property owner.
(Ord. 959-CS, Amended, 11/28/2000)
Fore more information, contact City of Turlock Municipal Services at 209-668-5590.